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74. Do you, like me, groan inwardly when we get into the joyous period that is Christmas?

Christmas image

Are you looking forward to Christmas?

Christmas is upon us and the stores are full of festive joy. Your staff have already started to plan their Christmas meals, search frantically for presents and those Christmas parties are appearing in their diaries.

It wasn’t that long ago that businesses, especially corporate service companies, welcomed the slowdown so they could catch up with the admin backlog. Now the Christmas period seems to be a busy spike in our personal and professional lives. Many staff will have at least one work related party or function and they will also be organising their family get-togethers.

Is it just me – or do celebrations seem to be starting earlier and earlier? For example, last year John Lewis started its Christmas promotions in early November and there were those that had their decorations up on the 1st of November. On television, cooking shows have already switched to Christmas specials and Sky Christmas, Tru Christmas and Christmas 24 all started broadcasting in early November.

The simple fact is: people are just constantly busy during this time of the year and Christmas is a huge part of our UK culture. According to some research, 11% of staff attends five or more Christmas parties every year.

For some of us this time of year can appear a little daunting. And to set expectations, when does “Christmas” begin and end? What can you do to survive this busy time?

The Christmas Period

The old school view might have held that the Christmas period starts in the first full week of December. This is when Christmas songs are played on the radio in earnest and shops really start to push their Christmas products.

But this has been subtely brought forward. The arrival of Black Friday in the UK is partly to blame. People are often looking for bargains for Christmas presents and other items and the Black Friday period is the perfect time for retailers (primarily online but a good excuse for the high street, too) to encourage us to buy those presents. So, perhaps the Christmas period has already started?

At the same time, staff are frequently at parties, soaking up the festive celebrations. Although in recent years, some businesses have persuaded staff to leave their meals to after the holidays, with some happening in mid January when you can get better deals.

But an end is in sight! . Most decorations are taken down on the 6th January – the 12th day of Christmas – and after a week back at work, most people will leave the holidays behind them.

How To Survive This Christmas

Here are our 6 quick tips:

  1. Embrace Christmas – get into the festive mood and ensure there is some cheer in your business. Tinsel, decorations and Christmas music can go a long way.
  2. Ensure staff are aware of your expectations – you know what is needed during the month, ensure that your staff know too.
  3. Plan ahead – so you know what work is required and by when. Ensure everyone is aware of the tasks that need to be completed and have an action plan on how this can be achieved factoring in staff leave.
  4. Partying – Let your staff know what you expect of them. By all means encourage the Christmas parties – but equally be aware of the health and safety issues and specifically your responsibilities as an employer. This is a potential minefield – if you want to scare yourself have a read of this!
  5. Requests for leave are often highest during the time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and this can mean that some businesses are left short staffed. It might be a lot easier to simply close your business or operate with a skeleton staff.
  6. Put in limits – The odd moment of mobile shopping or ‘online browsing’ is natural at this time of year. It would be well worth putting a policy in place so that your team know the boundaries and do not overstep the mark.

So, it only remains to say to all our readers have a great and safe Christmas period – however you choose to define it.

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